A post about an employer who offered a worker paid time off when he "opened up" about the personal challenges he was facing has gone viral on LinkedIn, where it has received more than 78,400 likes and other reactions.

A stock image of a woman with her hands over her eyes, while sitting in front of a laptop computer. LinkedIn users have praised an employer who offered a worker paid time off when he "opened up" about the personal challenges he was facing.iStock/Getty Images Plus

According to a February 2021 survey of nearly 1,500 people from 46 countries, conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 85 percent said that, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, their general well-being declined, while 89 percent replied their workplace well-being diminished.

Of those surveyed, exactly half said a decline in mental health (including increased stress, anxiety and burnout) was the biggest contributor to the change in their general well-being.

According to the survey, 13 percent said "home-life struggles," while 8 percent cited "lack of leader support," played the biggest role in the decline of their general well-being.

In the post shared on LinkedIn, Jeremy Berman, the founder of GoodUnited (a U.S.-based company that does social-media fundraising for nonprofits) said that one of his employees said he was dealing with personal issues during a performance-review meeting, where the worker was told he "wasn't meeting standards."

Berman said: "Our culture is to be open and transparent." So when he told the employee what wasn't working about his performance, "that's when he opened up" and said, "I'm dealing with some personal issues."

Berman then replied: "How about you take a paid week off?"

When the employee returned to work from his time off, he showed up early for meetings, was engaged and took initiative.

"Every single human on this planet has dealt with personal issues. Having to perform at work while that's going on? Rough," Berman said.

"Sometimes what's happening at home deserves 100 percent of our attention. And there's no point trying to force someone to work when they just can't," he said.

Cara de Lange, the founder of Softer Success, a well-being company providing "evidence-backed burnout solutions" for organizations, told Newsweek that the response by the employer in the LinkedIn post is good for the short term, "as there may be initial first signs of burnout."

However, the important part is the longer-term strategy, de Lange said. How can this manager help his employees become more engaged and prevent burnout throughout their career?

The expert said: "It's imperative that leaders spot the signs and take preventive measures before we end up with organizations that have 80 to 90 percent of employees that are burned out and unable to work effectively.

"This has a direct impact on our health and well-being. If we're not careful, trauma-infused burnout could be our next mega pandemic," de Lange added.

Several users on LinkedIn praised the original poster for his unexpected gesture towards his worker.

Vanessa Rashid wrote: "Compassion for employees can go a long way toward improving retention! Good for you."

Shane Peckover commented: "Nurturing an environment which allows people to open up and feel safe in doing so is such an important thing. Kudos "

Chris Stanley wrote: "I love love love this...My team are many things before they are my team, they are humans, they are parents, they are someone's child, and they are someone else's hero, I never let them or me forget that."

Promoting Well-Being in the Workplace

De Lange recommends the following measures be implemented by businesses to help ensure the well-being of their workers.

Write Well-Being Goals Into Employee Contracts

De Lange said today's "always-on" culture is not only harmful, but it's unsustainable, and "it's why employees are clocking out mentally." So it's time to start writing well-being goals into work contracts, she said.

It's about making sure employees are looking after their mental and physical health outside of work. This could mean having a right to disconnect outside of working hours (no calls or emails), ensuring that employees are using their holiday or "making it mandatory to take time off when their mental health isn't at its best," de Lange said.

Make Employees' Well-Being a Business Goal

The Softer Success founder said employee well-being must become a "non-negotiable" business goal for your organization to engage and retain staff.

De Lange said: "This isn't just about surveying employees about their happiness at work, but actually looking at the results and asking your people what's missing.

"You most likely can't implement every request, but is there a prevailing request your employees are asking for that would increase their well-being at work?" she asked.

Be Attuned to the Work Your Employees Enjoy

De Lange said: "When employees enjoy their work, they're more productive and engaged." So, it's crucial for managers to carve out time to sit with their employees and learn what type of projects they want to be involved with.

"There will always be projects and tasks people don't want to do, but ensuring that there's at least one that team members can really engage with, and are happy to work on, will improve their motivation," de Lange added.

Give Recognition and Reward Often

De Lange said that, according to research by Reward Gateway, 43 percent of employees felt they were overlooked or undervalued and another 40 felt demotivated by lack of recognition.

She said: "Sometimes, it's not crazy perks or pizza parties that make employees happy. It's really just as simple as telling them 'well done' for doing a good job.

"This doesn't have to be everyday or all the time, but when an employee has truly done great work, you see them as reliable, or they've made your life easier in some way, tell them, and really mean it. It's free, and it will do wonders for your company culture," de Lange said.

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